Bootstrapping India
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Recruitment   by   Competitive   Exams

     The governments these days are divided into departments, where each department has officers dedicated to address a specific problem. The structure of the department is defined by the lawmakers or Ministers at the time of creating the departments.

     While defining the structure of a department of the many procedures, one procedures that law-makers need to define is the procedures to recruit middle/junior level employees. This web-page strictly deal ONLY with this issue.

     There are several ways of appointing the junior/middle officers. Most schemes can be seen as combination or modifications of two basic schemes :
  1. Recruitment based on personal sujective choices, based on recommendations and interviews

  2. Recruitment by open competitive exams in the subjects in which the personnel who will be appointed have to deal with.
     The cost of competitive exams can be reduced by comupetrization and makeing it two tier, and by making various departments club their exams or at least the first tier of the thier exams. The exams MUST be written (or computerized) consisting of objective questions ONLY and there should be NO interviews at all.

     As an example, following can be a strategy to recrucit Maths teachers for teaching class VI-X in the schools in a district
  1. Take a basic test in Maths/Logic for all applicants
  2. Say there are 100 openings. Then out of all applicants, select the first 1000-2000 applicants who have best scores in Maths/Logic
  3. Take second test in Maths/Logic and one more related subject such as say Physics, and select the first 100 applicants.
     Now say in the same district say there are 20 departments. Say one department needs 200 clerks and 10 supervisors. While another department needs 100 clerks and 500 Maths teachers, third depertment needs 10 nurses, 10 clerks and 20 Pharmacists. All these departments can club their requirements, and take a first tier test in say basic subjects like Maths and Logic. And of those who have been successful, they can appear in the second exams in the subjects that would be specific to the positions. This will reduce the cost of examinations.

     The open competive exams has proved far less nexusprone and far less corruption-prone compared to personal interview method . The competive exams give a fair chance to entire citizenry to become part of the administration. In contrast, the personal-choice based system is quite unfair. It may be suitable for small private companies, but it is not suitable for giving jobs in the Govt departments. Not just Govt departments, many private companies also use competitive exams for rectuitment of middle/junior techincal, administrative as well as clerical staff.

     And most important is --- the staff recruited by open competition exam is guranteed to be have no nexuses with superior in the begining. Later on, they may cultivate nexuses. While, the staff recruited by personal interviews is likely to be nexused with superiors who recruited them.

     The staff members who have come by competitive exam have confidence in themselves. They know that they have come by their abilities and skills, and NOT by somone's greatfulness or well wish. This makes them proud of themselves, and less psycophant towards seniors. The staff selected by competitive exams is MOSTLY (NOT always) upright and it DOES NOT accept irrational orders from superiors which is a plus point in administration of the Govt departments.

     Whereas the staff which has come by personal reccomendations is ALWAYS under the belief that they have been recruited by someone's mercy, and are NEVER confident of their abilities. The staff is never upright and always gives too much weightage to the superior's orders. For a department which needs to be run by rule of law, such staff is a liability, not an asset.

     Also, if recruitment is by open competitive exams, those want to secure jobs in government will decide NOT spend time and energy in building nexuses with those in power, but will spend time and energy in improving their skills in the exams that they would face. Whereas, if recruitment is by personal interviews, then those who are aspiring to get positions will spend all their time in building nexuses with those in power, and will find the idea of cultivating skills "idealistic" i.e. useless. So the Recruitment by Competitive Exams NOT ONLY improves the administration, but it also improves the mentality of the youth and makes the youth hard-working rather than manipulative.

     So as far as possible, the Departments in Government should use only WRITTEN and OBJECTIVE competitive exams for recruitments, and NOT the subjective interviews or nominations. This is MUST to lower the level of nexuses and effect of nexuses in administration and society.

[Aside :
Impersonal   Interviews

Drawback of written tests

Now written test has one drawback --- the candidate cannot be quized "interactively". i.e. the questions are pre-set, and questions cannot be manufactured based on answers candidate gave to his PREVIOUS questions, so that candidate can be cross examined on his on view point. Also, written tests are not possible when subject base is too too narrow, like PhDs or specialities.

Impersonal Interviews

If interviews are needed, how can interview be made less nexusprone? One solution is to hold interviews in following way, which I call as impersonal interviews :
  1. there is a pool of say 20-30-more interview-takers and say 100-200-more candidates need to give interviews.

  2. At last moment, 3-5 interview-takers are selected at RANDOM to interview an interview-taker

  3. The conversation is recorded, on video as well if possible, and written transcript is also made.

  4. The marks are given by individuals DIFFERENT from interview-takers. Say 3-5 personals are chosen at random from a pool of 20-30-more persons; they go thru the tape/trasncripts within 2 hrs after they are selected; and immidiately give the marks.

  5. An alternative to above is : 3-5 persons chosen at random watch the interview, and give the marks right after interview ends.
One key feature of this interview prcedure is that those who ask/make questions are DIFFERENT from those who give marks. And the candidate has no means of knowing who are the mark-givers.

With arrival of video-conferencing, the process can be made fool-proof to nexues. How?
  1. Say 1000 candidates are to be recruited from a group of 1000,000 applicants
  2. By written exam, select say top 2000 candidates.
  3. Of these, at least 50%, i.e. 500 seats should be filled WITHOUT interviews by top 500 candidates.
  4. The remaining 1500 can be called for interviews in their OWN city.
  5. There can be a pool of 1000-2000 interview takers nation-wide.
  6. Using video conferencing, 3-5 randomly selected interview-takers can interview a candidate remotely and 3-5 persons selected randomly can watch the interview and give marks.
This administrative procedure reduces tha chances of individual-individual level nexuses to almost zero.

The second worst drawback of interviews : Ideological Exclusion

There is another important reason to avoid interviews as far as possible, over and above nexuses. The interviews are used to exclude the candidates with "undesirable ideologial bent" of mind, even if that person is intellegent and knowledgeable.

Let me eloberate by an example. I live in Ahmedabad, and got chance to study interview procedures conducted by a world class management collage, whose name I will NOT mention, but I am sure that you, the reader, has guessed the name by now. The insititute has lately become a hotbed of "psuedo-rightist" ideology.

[What is psuedo-rightist? First, I will explain what is True Rightist i.e. Libertarian viewpoints which are extremely dear to me. A True Rightist like myself believes that taxes etc should be limited to fund militray, police, courts and prisons, and everything else should be left to free market. A True Rightist, such as myself, is hostile to almost ALL subsidies, be for poor or for rich. And a True Rightist also believes that Ministers, officers etc MUST not spend money collected by rent/royalty on Govt-owned land and Govt-owned natural resources on their pet projects, but MUST be focred to distribute equitably amongst citizens. Whereas a pusedo-rightist is opposed subsidies to poor, but enthusiatic to subsides for rich. And he believes that rent/royalty from GoI-property MUST not be handed over to the citizens.]

The institute that I mentioned but did NOT name, has become a hotbed of psuedo-rightist activism. Boldy they oppose some subsdies, and ignore the subsidies that go to rich. And quietly but DELIBERATELY they ignore the issue of rent/royalty on Govt-property, and how it should be used.

Now how is this related to procedure of interview vs written test? After conducting written test, the toppers are called for interviews. The individual favoritism in inteview is rare (though it does happen), but thats NOT my point right now. The interview-takers, who are professors or some well known psuedo-righists, selectively and aggressively weed out True Rightist candidates from those who have passed the written test. This ensures that only candidates with psudo-rightist viewpoints to get access to the insititute and its resources.

Any interview procedure, even the impersonal interview, will NOT be free from this drawback --- i.e. interview-takers will weed out those who support a different ideology. In the said institute, the pusedo-rightist weed out Libertarians. There may be another institute where leftists weed out rightist, or oligarchy-minded weed out democracy-minded candidates. The question of which ideology victimizes which one is irrelevant. In selection of candidates in Govt-owned bodies, the ideological bent of candidate MUST be irrelevent.

Thats why, I personally believe that written tests should be final word, unless writtent test are not possible for that seat. And even when interviews are taken, at least 50% seats should be filled WITHOUT interviews by those who have topped written exams. This ensures that at least the toppers will succeed irrespective of the ideological bent of mind they have.


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